A cruel twist

The CNY SPCA is on a mission for money.

Since New York state's Department of Agriculture recently dropped the dog license program, Onondaga County's 19 towns and the city of Syracuse have had to pick it up, effective Jan. 1.

For years, the SPCA and the Onondaga County Health Department - under Animal Disease Control - have had a yearly contract to assist the non-profit with its programs. Out of an estimated $70,000, $30,000 was funded through revenue from dog licensing. But since the state dropped the program, the county doesn't get the $30,000, and consequently, neither does the CNY SPCA.

"That money is gone now," said SPCA Executive Director Paul Morgan, adding those funds were specifically earmarked for the cruelty investigation department.

In come the city and towns.

Morgan is asking that officials consider adding a $2 surcharge to their dog license fees.

Losing a hefty portion of county funding will affect its cruelty department, Morgan said, which now consists of one full-time employee and two part-timers, including Morgan.

"This could definitely affect the staff, thus a reduction of services," he said, listing food, medical service and shelter it provides during ongoing cruelty investigations.

Additionally, a potential decrease in staff and services could affect how many cases the cruelty team can investigate. According to Morgan, the CNY SPCA gets called by local police departments and 911 to investigate almost all cruelty cases in the county. On a yearly basis, that number yields between 75 and 90. Last year, Morgan said, there were about nine felony arrests and up to 80 misdemeanors.

"[The town of] Manlius has been very good, wonderful; [it's] very supportive of us," said Morgan, who is scheduled to meet with the Manlius Town Board Jan. 12.

Other towns, however, ask how they can justify a surcharge for the CNY SPCA when it has nothing to do with dog licensing. Morgan has an answer. It's to support the animal organization's programs.

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